Vellis bids for Barton preselection

first_imgGeorge Vellis, the Sydney-based President of the Australian Hellenic Council has thrown his hat into the ring as an ALP preselection candidate to fight the federal seat of Barton held by Liberal Nick Varvaris.Mr Vellis’ move comes as the Australian Electoral Commission deliberates on boundary changes to the Barton electoral division that could overnight make it a notionally Labor seat. Mr Varvaris currently holds the seat by a wafer-thin majority of 0.3 per cent.The boundary changes, which will be be finalised next month, have prompted speculation that high-profile Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese is considering switching from the neighbouring seat of Grayndler to challenge Varvaris, with part of the Grayndler division likely to be added to Barton.Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Mr Vellis, a long-time ALP member and activist in south Sydney, said his motivation for running as a preselection candidate was to uphold traditional Labor values and work hard for the electorate.“I am proud to stand on my track record as a community leader who has successfully lobbied federal politicians for more than 15 years, most notably in defending human rights protections for all Australians, and promoting a successful, distinctively Australian model of multiculturalism within our community.”Mr Vellis said in the last two years he had “the honour to be part of a team of community leaders who led the charge in preventing the Federal Government from weakening protections against racial vilification in the Racial Discrimination Act,” and that he had a “deep understanding” of the issues that are important to the Barton electorate, notably “job security, promoting family values, upgraded health services, improved education opportunities for our children, and safer streets.”The AHC President and passionate trade unionist described himself as “a grass roots activist” who has no time for “politics as usual”.“We live in a democracy, and that means the people are the masters; politicians the servants,” said Mr Vellis. who is the first ALP preselection candidate to be confirmed for the Barton seat.Neos Kosmos understands that Labour candidate Steve McMahon, who lost narrowly to Varvaris, at the 2013 election will not be seeking pre-selection in 2016.Vellis is likely to face competition from at least four other ALP candidates for preselection which will go to a vote of local members in March. Depending on the extent of boundary changes, Anthony Albanese is expected to make a decision on whether he will run for preselection shortly after their announcement. The AHC president said he had received assurances that the ALP National Executive would allow local democracy to decide the preselection outcome. “There needs to be due process, and it’s imperative the members have a say, and it’s not a decision made by head office,” he said. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img

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